The State of the Prisons: Exploring Public Knowledge and Opinion
21 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2005
This article reviews public opinion research relating to imprisonment. The focus is upon British attitudes, but wherever possible we place findings from this country in an international context. Most members of the public report little familiarity with the prison system - few people report having had any direct contact with a penal institution. A common finding around the world is that most people believe that prison conditions are quite easy; this belief helps to explain low public levels of confidence in the prison system. Despite these trends, the public does not wish to make prison life harsher merely for the purpose of punishment. People want and expect prisoners to improve their lives while inside, although there is widespread scepticism that rehabilitation is possible in today's prisons.
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